How Does it Work?
- The POD Living Wall System [Article]
How this system compares to other systems on the market and is it right for your project?
For over a decade, the team at Green Oasis has been installing and maintaining live walls. In the day-to-day grind of all this, we have experienced the majority of the challenges that come with Living Plant Walls.
This is why we are so thrilled about the POD Living Wall System. This system improves on some of the popular systems used today and eliminates issues that increase maintenance costs over time.
I’ll begin with an overview of how the system works then, then I will point out some of the big reasons why this system has been designed as it has and how it improves on other systems available on the market. Then, we will finish up with where this system may not be suitable.
HOW IT WORKS
Irrigation is a huge factor in live walls – especially on exterior walls with their exposure to heat and wind which will dry them out quickly (Green Oasis is based in Texas so we see plenty of both). The POD system’s simple top-down watering is very simple to manage and monitor. And, it can be accomplished with an automatic system or be done manually.
If internal plumbing is not an option, ask us about the simple irrigation process we developed using a rolling water cart. This makes watering large walls by hand quite simple.
If plumbing is close by, this generally enables you to use an automatic watering system that is very easily remotely monitored. And it’s as simple as connecting the plumbing to the drip line along the top row.
Inside each POD is a simple irrigation system that integrates with the PODS below. Water intake is a simple drip line or manual watering and is applied at the top row, which then takes on a preset amount of water and, when full, cascades to the POD below and on and on until it reaches the bottom row. On the bottom row, the irrigation water either goes into a tank or is diverted to a drain.
Another big design feature is the way the plants slip into the POD modules, sealing up the irrigation from debris and keeping the plants in place.
Most other wall systems use tray-style rows to hold the plants. Then the irrigation runs along the bottom of the tray where the plants draw up the water they need. Issue number one is that every plant, healthy or not, drops leaves from time to time – where do these go?
Into the trays.
Also, what happens to loose soil on the top of a plant pot when it is tilted to 30 degrees? It slides off. To where? Into the trays. These are two large problems.
What happens to these leaves and soil resting in the bottom of the trays? They sit in the water, making a disgusting mess, and worse – they create a perfect environment for bugs and pests. The POD system eliminates these possibilities with its very structure.
The POD Living Wall System is a soil-based system. Each plant grows in a 6” grow pot. The grow pots affix into a modular unit which we call a POD. These are 12”w x 7.25”h. These can be connected together to make a multi-story wall, or they can be grouped together in smaller clusters with other elements for a unique design.
Most importantly, we use a 6” diameter soil mass which is plenty of soil for the plant sizes used in live walls to grow naturally in. Smaller soil masses tend to dry out much quicker, often stressing the plants from one watering to the next. The more soil, the longer the optimal moisture levels last between waterings.
Other systems: Industry standard pots are 4″ grow pots to reduce visibility. Aesthetically this makes sense but logistically there is not enough soil to retain enough moisture between waterings and the plants experience “water stress”. This creates the need for plants to be replaced at higher rates.
The other issue we’ve seen with the common tray system is that the plants sit loosely in the tray. The plants are easily blown out or brushed out of position away from the irrigation. Plants that can be blown around will also shake more soil into the system, as mentioned previously. With the POD system, the plants lock into place to eliminate these issues.
Putting in a live wall outside? This increases the problems for the tray system. Not only is there more debris outdoors, but there is wind. The POD system holds up well in windy conditions with the plants being locked into place.
With the plants being able to slide in and out, the POD system also makes replacements very simple. No plant lasts forever – even if you are not looking for season changes, plants need to be replaced. The POD system is great for this.
THINGS TO KNOW
The final design point we felt must be part of our system is the simple modular flexibility. Architects and designers love having the flexibility to create special shapes, follow curves or combine live wall PODs with other elements like wood, stone, or preserved moss.
When we started, I mentioned that I would discuss where the POD system is challenged. As good as we feel our system is, we do recognize that our system does not work for everyone
In areas where there is low light, our POD Living Wall will likely struggle. This is more than likely true with most live wall systems. We see people not taking advantage of the inexpensive supplemental lighting that is available today. Plants need light, often more than most people realize. In these cases, we bow out – it’s important to us that every installation is a success.
And then there is the cost. The POD system is not the cheapest system initially (see “Cost of a Living Plant Wall”). We have found it does generally have a lower overall operating cost and as well as delivers the original design intent of an attractive live wall for years to come.
I hope you have found this information helpful! If it has left you with any questions, please contact us; we would enjoy answering any additional questions. I truly hope that you get to experience a living wall in your designs or in your space.
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